Why Are Biodegradable Urns the New Wave in Urns?
by Kristal Borjas June 11, 2021 6 min read
The common misconception about urns is they must be placed on a person’s mantle to honor a loved one who has passed on. But there is a new trend that is taking the industry by storm: biodegradable urns.
Well, the trend isn’t new.
People have been using these urns for years, but the popularity of the concept is starting to pick up steam. Families of the deceased, and often in accordance with a person’s last wishes, are choosing this eco-friendly way of having their ashes stored.
What Are Biodegradable Urns?
Biodegradable options are a good choice for anyone that doesn’t want to harm the environment. The desire to save the environment has led to more people seeking biodegradable urns that are:
- Good for the environment
- Constructed with eco-friendly materials
- Made to meet government requirements (when possible and/or necessary)
The materials that the urn is made of can vary and will dictate how long it takes for the urn to disintegrate.
What Are Biodegradable Urns Made Of?
Biodegradable materials can vary from one urn to the next, but the most common options are:
- Recycled plant materials
- Sand and gelatin
And each of these types have their own benefits that will help you make a choice between cremation urns. Prices can be affordable, too. You can expect to spend as much as $300 or as little as $50 on the urn you purchase.
Prices can also go above the $300 mark, but this is a good threshold for a lot of cremation containers.
Options With Biodegradable Urns
End-of-life wishes are deeply personal. Some people want massive tombstones, others want their ashes to be scattered in the ocean, and others want to be returned to the earth and be transformed into a tree.
When you use a traditional urn, your ashes can be held for a lifetime as long as the urn remains tightly sealed.
But biodegradable options are different.
Time to Break Down
Materials may break down in a matter of weeks, or the material may break down in a few years. You need to choose the right option for your urn so that your final wishes are carried out the way you want.
Do you want your ashes to be held by loved ones for years?
This will dictate the material that you choose. We have some urns that will rapidly break down, allowing your ashes to be back in the earth as soon as possible.
So, you have a lot of options.
Do you want your ashes to be buried? Some people choose cremation jewelry as part of their wishes, while others want every last bit of their ashes to go back into the earth. When you opt for burial urns, you’re choosing an urn that is:
- Made from sustainable materials
- Breaks down when exposed to moisture and soil
Most burial urns need to undergo some form of a chemical process to begin breaking down. For example, bamboo options will often be placed into the soil where the moisture and soil begin to break the urn down.
These urns can simply be buried in a key location, such as near the person’s favorite tree or a garden, and the earth takes care of the rest for you.
A living urn is a fascinating concept, and you may have heard of them before. A living urn will use a planting system that turns the buried urn into a living, breathing plant. We're seeing people across the world using living urns because they want to be “reborn” or help nurture a plant to life.
Trees are often formed with these urns, and there are even growing instructions provided with the urn to help your loved ones grow the tree properly.
In many cases, seeds are embedded into the urn, which can lead to growth when the urn starts to degrade. Living urns have so many options to choose from - more than 50 - so you can pick an urn that allows you to leave your final mark on the planet in a way you want.
If you don’t want your remains to be buried or to go back to the earth, you also have the option of choosing a water urn. A lot of people want to have a water memorial for their passing, and this allows the person to choose a body of water as their final resting place.
In some cases, the event is a large extravaganza where family members are placed on boats so that everyone can send the deceased off.
There are water urns that are patented and will:
- Float upright for a few minutes
- Slowly let ashes out of the bottom of the urn
- Eventually dissolve in the water
Unique water systems ensure that the urn is able to degrade without harming marine life or ending up on the bottom of the ocean for decades.
Multiple options are available when choosing a biodegradable urn, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option. The urns that you choose should meet your goals for the environment when they break down.
How Deep Should Biodegradable Urns Be Buried?
It's one thing to place your urn in the water and let it degrade on its own, but it’s another thing to bury an urn. You can’t just bury your urn anywhere (more on that below), and you need to bury the urn deep enough in the ground to allow it to degrade properly.
Most manufacturers will list their recommendations on how deep to bury the urn, but a general rule of thumb is:
- 1-foot deep at a minimum
- 3 feet deep is ideal
When you bury the urn three feet, it’s the ideal depth and will allow the urn to properly degrade. You also don’t have to be concerned of animals digging the urn up or heavy rains exposing the urn.
Speaking of burying your urn, there are places where you can and can’t bury an urn.
Where Can You Plant Biodegradable Urns?
If you’re planting or burying an urn, there are rules and restrictions that you must follow. You can’t just have your urn buried on your neighbor's property without first getting some form of permission.
A few places where urns are most commonly buried are:
- Private property. Do you have a strong attachment to your home and the land it sits on? A lot of people request that their urn be buried in their front yard, under a porch or something similar.
- City parks. A city park is often a beautiful space to have an urn buried, and the park may welcome the burial if your urn grows into a tree. You'll need special permission for the burial, but this is a good way to become a permanent part of the community.
- National parks. Park services will be able to grant permission if you wish to have your urn buried in the park. A lot of people will bury their family member’s urn in a state or national park without permission, but it’s always best to seek permission.
- Cemetery or memorial park. Some cemeteries and memorial parks are welcoming the addition of living urns on their properties. They may or may not ask for payment, but a lot of these locations have more than enough space for an extra tree or two to be planted.
You can also consider having the urn planted at a church or a location that you or your loved one cherished during life.
Remember, the rules and regulations for burying any kind of remains can vary from state to state, city to city and county to county. You’ll want to confirm with local officials before requesting your urn be planted in a certain location.
Benefits of Biodegradable Urns
Biodegradable urns have a lot of benefits that are unique to this type of cremation urn. Benefits of these urns include:
- Rapid disintegration. Depending on the material that the urn is constructed with, they can break down in a matter of a year or less. The impact on the environment is very minimal, allowing nature to remain virtually unscathed.
- May regrow trees. Tree removal is a major problem, and when an urn helps grow trees, it offers the benefit of helping the environment in the most natural way possible.
- The materials used in biodegradable urns are sustainable, allowing for the least impact on the environment possible.
- Controlled ash scattering. When placed in the water, these urns release ash from the bottom to eliminate the risk of wind scattering the ashes all over the place.
- Easy transport. Biodegradable urns will pass through airport security and checkpoints, allowing you to easily bring your loved one’s ashes across states.
And you can choose from dozens of different styles, colors and looks to find an urn that is perfect for you or a loved one.
As more people become conscious of how their habits have an impact on the environment, biodegradable urns will only continue to increase in popularity. With the ability to have your ashes returned to the earth, grown into a tree or scattered into the ocean, you can have the sendoff that you want.
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